A credible outcome is still the only option

Saturday August 12 2017

Running results for Kenya's presidential elections appear on a giant screen at the national tally centre on August 9, 2017 in Nairobi as final results for Kenya's presidential elections are anticipated.  President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared headed for re-election Wednesday as his rival Raila Odinga rejected early results as

Running results for Kenya's presidential elections appear on a giant screen at the national tally centre on August 9, 2017 in Nairobi as final results for Kenya's presidential elections are anticipated. President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared headed for re-election Wednesday as his rival Raila Odinga rejected early results as "fake". PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP 

By GABRIEL DOLAN
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Kenyans are massively enthusiastic democrats. They rose up early, spent hours in long lines, voted with vigour and went home to await results.

No surprise there. Kenyans have always voted peacefully and played their part. It has been successive electoral commissions that have failed them.

Could this also be the case in 2017?

The country is awash with international observer teams who appear on damage limitation exercises or costly junkets rather than committed to holding the IEBC and the State security machinery to account.

As I write, a bevy of them are commending the ballot without acknowledging that voting has always been trouble-free.

The incessant praise for the IEBC and the calls to avoid protests are part of a very familiar script.

PRESERVING STABILITY

The observer teams appear more committed to preserving stability and the status quo than standing for a credible and acceptable outcome.

The local media have the same narrative, failing to report on public protests while Kenyans are once more dependent on social media and the international media houses to know what is happening in their own turf.

The monitoring teams have failed to observe that problems in 2007 and 2013 arose at the counting or, more specifically, at the verification and transmission of the tallying, and not at the ballot box itself.

As the leadership of Kura Yangu, Sauti Yangu has pointed out, we have been here before and there is a strong sense that we are headed in that familiar direction.

The High Court had ruled that the constituency presidential results were binding and final.

OPPOSED RULING

The IEBC continuously opposed that ruling. That is their right of course, but they were legally bound to implement the ruling.

Put another way, transmitting the results without the supporting evidence of Forms 34A and 34B was in bad judgment at best.

Whatever the intention, the reality is that posting 96 per cent of ‘provisional results’ without any verifiable evidence was a reckless choice that has created tension and deep suspicion.

This could and should have been avoided. There was no urgency in releasing provisional results.

The law gives the commission up until Tuesday next week to make final announcements.

UPLOADING FORMS

As I was writing, the process of uploading the forms on the IEBC had just begun.

We may well discover that there is indeed consistency between what was already posted publicly and what is now supported by Forms 34 A and B.

But what if there is inconsistency? What if tallying proves that in fact Raila Odinga has passed the 50 per cent plus 1 mark? How will Jubilee react to that?

This is not wishful thinking but an honest appraisal of the current unsatisfactory situation.

Put another way, if the IEBC does not provide Kenyans with a credible outcome, then there is no choice but to repeat the presidential vote.

VIOLENCE

This is the only option. Protest is permissible and legal but violence is not an option and will not resolve anything.

The voters have done their part. Kenyans should not accept any result that is not credible, regardless of who is declared the winner.

The clock is ticking but there is time to get things right and credible.

Fr Gabriel Dolan is a Catholic priest based in Mombasa. [email protected] @GabrielDolan1